[Week Four broadcast of “The Superhero Show” from WAMH 89.3 FM Amherst; originally aired 10/17/2015]
Question of the week: How many superheroes and superheroines can you name?
In addition to the usual favorite superhero poll, I put interviewees to the test. I asked them to name as many male superheroes as they could in thirty seconds. That was easy enough. But naming as many female superheroes as they could in thirty seconds? For everyone, that seemed a bit more difficult.
On average, most people could name 9 male superheroes but only 6 female superheroes. And no surprise, the male superheroes they named first? Batman and Superman. The most named female superheroes were Wonder Woman and Catwoman. Could the frequency of these named superheroes have any correlation to their presence in contemporary media like movies, shows, and cartoons? Probably.
In comparison to the male superheroes, there was much less variety in the female superheroes named. This is most likely due to only a handful of female superheroes innovated outside of their comic books.
According to the father of media theory, Langdon Winner, we’re following a cycle of repeating status quo gender roles:
The modern history of technological change is, therefore, not one of uniform growth. It is instead a diverse collection of patterns rooted in specific choices that individuals, groups, and nations have made for themselves and imposed on others.
(Winner, 54, Autonomous Technology)
No media is really new; it’s a just a different way (whether through phonograph or phone) to tell the same story. And boy, are we telling the exact same story over and over again.
So what’s a girl to do?
Push for more female superheroes. Argue for many innovations of the ones we already have. If Spider-man can be revamped three times within my generation, why can’t Wonder Woman or Black Widow or Rogue? Maybe it’s time to give women a shot too.
Current Lead of Favorite Superhero Poll
“The Superhero Show” broadcasts live from WAMH at Amherst College on Saturday nights from 8-9pm EDT/US. Listen at 89.3FM or wamhradio.com